Geometric potentials from deep learning improve prediction of CDR H3 loop structures

Jeffrey A. Ruffolo, Carlos Guerra, Sai Pooja Mahajan, Jeremias Sulam, Jeffrey J. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Motivation: Antibody structure is largely conserved, except for a complementarity-determining region featuring six variable loops. Five of these loops adopt canonical folds which can typically be predicted with existing methods, while the remaining loop (CDR H3) remains a challenge due to its highly diverse set of observed conformations. In recent years, deep neural networks have proven to be effective at capturing the complex patterns of protein structure. This work proposes DeepH3, a deep residual neural network that learns to predict inter-residue distances and orientations from antibody heavy and light chain sequence. The output of DeepH3 is a set of probability distributions over distances and orientation angles between pairs of residues. These distributions are converted to geometric potentials and used to discriminate between decoy structures produced by RosettaAntibody and predict new CDR H3 loop structures de novo. Results: When evaluated on the Rosetta antibody benchmark dataset of 49 targets, DeepH3-predicted potentials identified better, same and worse structures [measured by root-mean-squared distance (RMSD) from the experimental CDR H3 loop structure] than the standard Rosetta energy function for 33, 6 and 10 targets, respectively, and improved the average RMSD of predictions by 32.1% (1.4 Å). Analysis of individual geometric potentials revealed that inter-residue orientations were more effective than inter-residue distances for discriminating near-native CDR H3 loops. When applied to de novo prediction of CDR H3 loop structures, DeepH3 achieves an average RMSD of 2.2 6 1.1 Å on the Rosetta antibody benchmark. Availability and Implementation: DeepH3 source code and pre-trained model parameters are freely available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)I268-I275
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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